Mysterious Nature


Sometimes nature can be a bit baffling. In the photo a Rush (the long straight stalk) has grown through the Alder leaf – both are undamaged. How can this happen? Does the Alder leaf sit quietly without moving until the Rush grows through it? Or did a gust of wind force the Alder leaf down on the Rush, leaving it impaled? There are shortcomings with both explanations.


Maybe you have a better idea?

Then there is the question of the Marble Gall. These round galls which are marble sized and shaped grow on Oak and are very common. They have been used for centuries for making the ink that was used to write important documents such as Magna Carta (1215). There are even traces of the ink on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Because the gall is very common now many people assume they were collected in the countryside but the Marble Gall only appeared here in the 18th century when the Turkey Oak was introduced to Britain – the insect that creates the gall needs the Turkey Oak to complete its life cycle. So were the galls imported? – the best were supposed to come from Aleppo which is in Syria – some distance away.

Further probing reveals that there was indeed a substantial trade in these galls with Britain importing around 2,500 tons in 1880. So even after the gall could be found in England and Wales the Aleppo gall was being brought in because they had a higher content of the tannins essential for producing the best ink. There are recipes online for making the ink so if you want to have a go at home or try it in the classroom you can still do so using the our local Marble Galls which grow all around the parish.